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Researchers invented a device that can quickly sober you up

Published Nov 16th, 2020 8:05PM EST
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  • Scientists have invented a new system that allows a person to breathe themselves sober.
  • By ensuring that person doesn’t hyperventilate while breathing faster than usual, an individual can breathe out a significant amount of the alcohol in their system and sober up more quickly.
  • The system may soon enter clinical trials once additional research is conducted.

Few things feel worse than drinking more than you can handle, but while most situations involving over-the-top drunkenness are cured with a big bottle of water and time, severe alcohol intoxication can be deadly. As Gizmodo reports, the system the researchers devised is actually fairly simple, and it revolves around the fact that when you’re intoxicated, some of the alcohol in your body escapes through your breath.

We’ve all had the experience of talking to someone who is intoxicated. If you can’t tell from their body language or perhaps a bit of slurred speech, you can definitely tell from their breath. However, only a small amount of alcohol escapes through the breath, and intentionally breathing rapidly is usually a recipe for passing out or at least becoming light-headed. This new system changes that.

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When someone is seriously intoxicated, the measures that medical professionals can take to bring them back out of danger are fairly limited. It’s often just a matter of ensuring the person’s vitals are in check as their body works to eliminate the alcohol via the liver. However, in cases where someone is in a life-threatening situation, more drastic techniques can be used, like pumping a person’s stomach to remove any alcohol that has yet to be absorbed,

The respiratory system eliminates a fairly small percentage of alcohol from the body via breathing, but scientists wanted to see if they could change that, allowing a person to basically breathe themselves sober in a much shorter period of time. The issue is that intentionally breathing heavily leads to hyperventilation which is an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, with CO2 levels dropping rapidly, putting a person at risk for fainting.

The scientists aimed to fix this by producing a device that essentially regulates the air a person is breathing via a tank attached to a mask. The individual can breathe rapidly, expelling a greater amount of alcohol via the breath, and the system ensures that the breaths they are taking in are of the right mixture of oxygen and CO2 so as to prevent lightheadedness and, of course, fainting.

In a new paper published in Scientific Reports, the scientists reveal that while testing the device on 250 volunteers who drank vodka and had their blood-alcohol levels monitored, the system managed to sober up the participants three times faster than if they were breathing normally. That’s a huge improvement and one that could potentially save lives. The researchers suggest “follow-up studies to confirm the effectiveness” of the system, or systems like it, and say that clinical trials may come in the future.

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